Der Eigene: Kultur und Homosexualität


Der Eigene, collected edition, 1906. Design credited to Adolf Brand.

The subtitle is from an article (see below); Der Eigene, the world’s first homosexual periodical was devoted to an ideal of “masculine culture” which looked to Ancient Greece for a model of same-sex relationships. Adolf Brand (“Editor, photographer, poet, polemicist, activist, anarchist, enfant terrible“) founded Der Eigene in Berlin 1896, and to give some idea of how advanced the Germans were in these matters, consider that not only was this a year after Oscar Wilde had been imprisoned in Britain but that Brand’s publication was only the first of several journals advocating gay rights at a time when homosexual acts were still illegal in Germany. The radicalism fell short of including women, unfortunately; like many Grecophile pioneers of the time, Brand’s world had no place for females. All this activity was part of a peculiar ferment in Germany around 1900 which saw the rise of many small groups devoted to naturism, Theosophy, occultism in general, and various pagan revivals. There were also plenty of fiercely nationalist factions, of course, and these took a dim view of Brand’s outspoken homo-anarchism. When the nationalists later turned into the Nazis they destroyed Germany’s nascent gay culture.


Morgendämmerung (Dawn) by Sascha Schneider, 1897. This drawing also appeared in Jugend magazine the same year.

The pictures here are from sets at Wikimedia Commons where the section devoted to the magazine has finally been amended with some higher-resolution copies. It’s a shame there isn’t more to see given that Der Eigene ran until 1932. I’ll be hoping for further works to come to light as the digitisation of rare publications gathers pace.


Der Eigene, November, 1920.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion
Jugend Magazine revisited
The art of Sascha Schneider, 1870–1927
Hadrian and Greek love

2 thoughts on “Der Eigene: Kultur und Homosexualität”

  1. Its amazing the Nazis didnt kill Brand considering his views. A very brave man. Some of his ideas are still radical – that we are not part of a minority, that most humans are bisexual, and that male homosexuality doesnt equate with femininity. Mainstream culture still sees us as “other”, even if its mostly positive these days. Still, things are changing…..
    Also its interesting to draw comparisons with Weimar era Germany and later eras of exploding bohemianism and radicalism. Imagine how much further we would be along the road of social evolution if the Nazis hadnt happened.

  2. Yeah, it’s impossible when reading about the history of that time to not wonder how things might have been without the First World War. No WW1, no bankrupted and wounded Germany; arguably no Hitler emerging later on. Some of those proto-hippy groups might have had more of a say in the direction the nation took in subsequent decades. The trouble is that when you look in those back issues of Jugend and see all the outright militarism and jostling with other powers like France, Britain and Russia, the First World War seems quite inevitable even as far back as 1900.

    I’d like to read more about Brand, he seems like a fascinating figure.

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